SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – JaQuori McLaughlin scored a season-high 21 points to lead five players in double-figures as UC Santa Barbara defeated visiting Portland State on Wednesday night, 81-70.
McLaughlin, who made seven of his 11 shots, also added a game-high six assists for the Gauchos (3-3) who won their second straight game.
"JaQuori really stepped-up tonight," said head coach Joe Pasternack. "21 points, six assists and just one turnover. That was big. We've been turning it over too much this year and tonight, against a team that is in the top-10 in the country in forcing turnovers, we only had nine. That's what we've become used to here and JaQuori was a very big part of that."
McLaughlin scored 12 of his 21 points in the first half. UCSB scored the first basket of the game and the Vikings (3-4) tied it up before a 12-0 run put the Gauchos ahead 14-2. McLaughlin either scored or assisted on 10 of the 12 points during that stretch.
PSU rallied back and cut the gap to 26-22 on a leaner in the key by Holland Woods with 7:02 left in the first half, but a teardrop shot in the paint by Devearl Ramsey and then back-to-back three-pointers by McLaughlin and Ramsey pushed UCSB's lead back to 34-22 with 5:24 on the clock. The lead remained 12 at the half thanks to another three-pointer by Ramsey as the buzzer sounded.
The Gaucho lead remained in double-digits for most of the first 13 minutes of the second half and it ballooned to 14 twice, the second time with 10:22 remaining in the game when Sékou Touré slashed into the key for a layup. The sophomore made 5-of-7 field goal attempts, finishing with a season-high 11 points and team-high eight rebounds.
"Sékou was very good tonight," Pasternack said. "With Brandon (Cyrus) out, he knew he had to step-up and he did."
Guard Brandon Cyrus missed the game with a variety of injuries resulting in Touré playing more than 24 minutes.
Led by Woods, who finished with a game-high 22 points before seemingly injuring his knee in the waning minutes, the Vikings whittled the lead to as low five at 70-65 with 3:01 left, but Santa Barbara was able to keep the visitors at bay with a 9-1 run to stretch the lead back to 79-66 on a pair of McLaughlin free throws with 50 seconds on the clock.
Robinson Idehen added six points, six rebounds and one blocked shot, and he was a big part of a Gauchos defensive effort that limited PSU to 41.7% shooting overall and 30.4% from outside the three-point arc. UCSB, on the other hand, made 52.5% of its field goals overall and 35.3% from three-point range.
In addition to Holland's 22 points, Chris Whitaker had 14 and Matt Hauser added 13. Rashaad Goolsby had eight points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
The Gauchos will next take the court when they host Grambling State on Friday, Nov. 29 in a 7:00 p.m. game at the Thunderdome. Tickets are available for just $5.00 by calling 805-893-UCSB or going to the ticket link at UCSBgauchos.com.